While it may be overly- dramatic to say that the demise of JDub Records is “the day the music died,” it is, without a doubt, a painful punch to the gut for Jewish musicians around the world.
In an industry where Contemporary Christian artists like Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, and Newsboys, dominated the radiowaves and store shelves, it was a true breath of fresh air when two nice Jewish Boys from NYU, Ben Hesse and Aaron Bisman, founded JDub Records in December of 2002.
By creating a musical platform for Jewish musicians to strut their stuff, JDub Records also proved to be a major sounding board which shouted Hey! We’re here, too, and we deserve to be heard!
For nine years, the scrappy record label thrived on, and launched, unique talents like Matisyahu, Balkan Beat Box, SoCalled, and DeLeon, as well as, in 2009, developing an online magazine and blog called Jewcy.
In a bittersweet letter to fans, on the Jewish record label’s website, written, fittingly, by Bisman, the JDub Co-Founder remained optimistic and dignified.
“Just as JDub modeled what a new Jewish organization could look like and achieve, we will also model how one appropriately winds down” he wrote. “We plan to share as much information as possible, and seek appropriate homes for our successful programs and assets. We hope that our albums will continue to be available on iTunes, Amazon, and record store shelves long into the future.”
The President and CEO closed the by giving thanks to supporters.
“We are extremely grateful to all of our fans, funders and supporters, the creative and inspiring artists with whom we’ve had the pleasure to work, their devoted fans, and our innovative and energetic team. We close with heavy hearts, but incredible pride in our collective accomplishments and impact.”
Now, with that bad news out of the way, it’s time to reflect.
Having reviewed several albums attached to the JDub label, this truly is a sad happening, as I’ve enjoyed many of the artists’ work, especially Shotnez, The Wailing Wall, Balkan Beat Box, and, of course, Matisyahu.
Anytime a medium—in this case, a music label—Jewish or otherwise, and dedicated to introducing a completely unique perspective, to the masses, comes to an end, is always a discouraging, stifling blow to creative minds, whether it be filmmakers, TV producers, or, in this case, musicians.
Yet, as they say, the proverbial Fat Lady hasn’t stopped singing (who says I’m above using clichés?!)
The fact that two people had the idea, the initiative, and the means to create a Jewish record label such as JDub is proof that if one (or two!) person can do, so can someone else.
And just like anything in life, it’s about quality, not quantity…and, as always, all good things must come to an end.
What’s important to take away from JDub’s demise is this: The length of time something exists is not important. People rarely consider how long someone or something stuck around for. Longevity matters not.
On the contrary, it’s the accomplishments, the failures, and the ability to improve upon both, that finally shows people what someone or something was truly made of.
Simply put: it’s all about the legacy.
What do we leave behind?
In the case of JDub Records, well, fans—myself included—are left with a gaping hole in our Jewish music-loving hearts.
That being said, we’re fortunate enough to have the many, many gifts that were endowed to us during JDub’s nine-year run. For now, that should fill the gap.